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Gridlock at the Power Centre?


Once the Smartgrid plan is implemented in India by Power Grid Corporation, it expects to prevent tripping and help in smooth flow of power. But, as a sequel to setting up the Smartgrid, state electricity distribution companies will have to upgrade their inter-state checking transmission systems.

According to Power Secretary, P Uma Shankar, the southern region, which is not connected to the National Power Grid will face an estimated 26% deficit during this fiscal.

Power Grid Corporation of India (PGCIL) has sought the permission of the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) to upgrade its stations to enable them to implement the Smartgrid mechanism. This is estimated to cost Rs655 crore and may be completed in three years after receiving the approval. Naturally, this is likely to be accomplished in several phases as work progresses.

There are five grids in operation, the Northern, Eastern, Western, North-Eastern and Southern.  Apart from the Southern grid, all other grids are interconnected.  This year, apart from Southern, North-Eastern grid is likely to face a shortfall of 10% while the Northern region may be hit by a negligible shortfall of 1.3%.  However, should there be a fall in power production itself, for any reason, these estimates will go haywire.

All these figures will change, should the government decide to come to the rescue of Pakistan and supply it the much-needed power in that country, to show our sincere feelings to establish our continued brotherly relations with our neighbour.

Anyway, because of the transmission constraints, there is a restriction in the flow of power particularly between the North Eastern and Southern regional grids. However, as stated earlier, this is likely to improve by next year, as per the power secretary’s statement.

Once the Smartgrid plan is implemented by PGCIL, for which it has sought the assistance of Indian Institute of Technology in Mumbai, it expects to prevent tripping and help in smooth flow. But, as a sequel to setting up the Smartgrid, Discoms (state electricity distribution companies) will have to upgrade their inter-state checking transmission systems involving expenses, but this will reduce power outages and thefts.  Also, once the “smart meters” are installed, households can programme their electricity use and consumption is likely to come down by 20-30 units for each consumer, thus reducing the monthly bills.

It is hoped that CERC (Central Electricity Regulatory Commission) would whole-heartedly support and approve this move by PowerGrid, but what is lamentable is the need to seek permission to introduce such beneficial programmes to the consumer.

PowerGrid, and others like it, which can bring such benefits to people at large, need to be able to act independently to take such steps, without waiting for approvals!  After all, why did PowerGrid not think of this earlier? It must take immediate steps to reduce the time frame for this project from three to two years, if not less, while it awaits the approval from the CERC, which is likely to take some 30 days to give its decision!

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